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Tips for the Courtroom

Court Basics

This article tells you general information on what to do and not to do in a courtroom.

Be Prepared

  • Get to the courthouse at least 30 minutes early to find parking and your courtroom.
  • Bring change for the parking meter.
  • Dress neatly. Do not wear shorts, tank tops, flip-flops, or hats. 
  • You will probably have to walk through a security checkpoint.
    • Do not bring any weapons into the courthouse.
    • Expect to have your personal items inspected, so have everything neatly organized ahead of time.
  • Do not bring children. Most courtrooms do not allow children. 

When You Are In Court

  • When the courtroom opens, go in and tell the clerk or officer you are present. The clerk usually sits next to the judge’s bench.
  • Be calm and polite to everyone.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Do not chew gum or bring food or drinks into the courtroom.
  •  Stand up when the judge enters or exits the courtroom. Stand up when you talk to the judge, unless you’re in the witness stand.
  • The judge may not call your case right away. Wait patiently. If you have to leave the courtroom, tell the clerk where you are going.
  • If friends or relatives come to court with you, ask them to follow these rules, too. 

When the Judge Calls Your Case

  • The judge will have you raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth.
  • If you have a divorce, case, you will need to give testimony. Some judges will ask you questions. Other judges will want you to read a “script” of testimony. You can find sample scripts—called “prove up testimony”—at Read the script ahead of time. Make sure everything in the script is true for you.
  •  When talking to a judge, call the judge “Your Honor.”
  • If the judge asks you questions, wait until she or he finishes speaking before you speak.
  • Tell the truth and don’t exaggerate. Give complete answers.
  • Say “yes” or “no” out loud. It’s not enough to nod or shake your head.
  • If you do not understand a question, say, “I don’t understand.” If you do not know an answer, say, “I don’t know.”
  • The judge will listen to what you say and review your papers. If everything is in order the judge will sign your proposed Order or Decree. 

Representing Yourself in Court

Click "play" to watch a video on representing yourself in court. It was produced for our sister site, TexasCourtHelp, but you can watch it here as well.

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